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Brain damage associated with prenatal meth exposure.

Byline: ANI

Washington, Mar 17 (ANI): Researchers have claimed that a developing fetus exposed to methamphetamine can cause far more damaging brain, cognitive and behavioral problems than prenatal exposure to alcohol.

Reporting in the March 17 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, UCLA professor of neurology Elizabeth Sowell and her colleagues used structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) to show for the first time that individuals whose mothers abused methamphetamine during pregnancy, with or without alcohol abuse, had structural abnormalities in the brain that were more severe than those seen in children whose mothers abused alcohol alone.

The researchers identified the brain structures that are vulnerable in such exposure, which may help predict particular learning and behavioral problems in methamphetamine-exposed children.

"We know that alcohol exposure is toxic to the developing fetus and can result in lifelong problems," said Sowell, the study's senior author. "In this study, we show that the effects of prenatal meth exposure, or the combination of meth and alcohol exposure, may actually be worse, and our findings stress the importance of seeking drug-abuse treatment for pregnant women."

In particular, said Sowell, a structure in the brain called the caudate nucleus, which is important for learning and memory, motor control, and punishment and reward, was one of the regions that was more reduced by methamphetamine than alcohol exposure. (ANI)

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Publication:Asian News International
Date:Mar 18, 2010
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